Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fast, Moon-lit Lauderdale-Key West Race

J120 sailing Lauderdale Key West race(Ft Lauderdale, FL)- After last year's race that saw a massive front pummel the fleet at the start, kick up ginormous waves in what anyone would describe as "fresh to frightening" weather conditions followed by an ominous "dead calm", this year's event will go down in the history books as positively benign for virtually all competitors.  After a lightish southeasterly breeze kicked in at the start, the entire fleet took off on a port tack fetch and as they bent around the keys with their right-turn signals flashing, and while simultaneously avoiding the gnarly reefs to starboard, the fleet set spinnakers and flew towards Key West in what was seen as a near-perfect, moon-lit evening for a sail-- your basic "walk in the park" as some wags put it!

J105 Loki sailing Key West raceBy the next morning, in what is a 15 hour race for the bigger faster boats and about a 24 hour race for the 35-45 footers, the winds had abated and got lighter and shiftier.  The stragglers saw a classic NW cold-front blow in with 30 kts out of the North, but all the J's had already finished as had 98% of the fleet-- all enjoying the extraordinary distractions on-shore that Key West is most famous for.  In fact, just before noon most of the J sailors had crossed the line before the tide turned against them at 1400 hrs.

J122 Teamwork sailing upwind to Key WestIn the IRC Class, it was the beautiful, flag navy blue J/120 REBECCA sailed by Glenn Gault that managed a 4th place in a super-competitve fleet of the IRC rule-beaters.  In the end, REBECCA managed to beat out an Aerodyne 38, Swan 42 and Class 40 on corrected time honors!

The PHRF A Class saw two knowledgeable and fast Lauderdale-Key West campaigners take two of the top three spots on the podium.  The J/122 TEAMWORK nearly pulled off a "three-peat" but managed to miss by a mere six minutes! Ouch.  And, how many places could that time have been made up taking better gybe angles or shifts last night?!  Most likely, too many to count as is the case so often in the offshore game.  So,  Robin Team's TEAMWORK crew from North Carolina had to settle for second on corrected time!  Third just a half hour back on corrected was David Bond's fast, elegantly maroon-colored J/105 LOKI from Miami, FL.   Sailing photo credits- Marco Oquendo-
For more Lauderdale-Key West sailing information